Plymouth, MA Business Owner Sues Governor Over Mask Mandate

By Emily Clarke

Plymouth – A downtown business owner is suing Gov. Charlie Baker for requiring that she and her workers and customers wear masks. She alleges the requirement is unconstitutional

In her complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court June 12, Noreen Bachade, who owns Healthy Vibes at 21 Court St., claims that Baker’s executive order requiring the wearing of masks violates her civil rights. According to the complaint, she is seeking damages, including lawyer’s fees, court costs and any other damages the court thinks appropriate.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel and Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards Director Bill McKinney are also named in the suit.

On May 1, the Baker-Polito Administration ordered all residents older than 2 years old to use a face covering or mask in public places where maintaining proper social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID19 are not possible. This statewide order went into effect May 6 and applies to those working in businesses and those entering them like customers. Violators face $300.oo fines.

Bachade charges that the governor’s mask mandates violate her constitutional rights to privacy and free speech because it prohibits facial expression, a strong conveyor of communication. She also states that the mandate violates her constitutional rightsto make her own personal medical decisions and violates Massachusetts police power and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

Bachade explained why she is taking legal action.

“Since the COVID 19 pandemic has begun, the government has taken some measures that were helpful in protecting the people, and other measures that were not helpful in protecting the people.

Many of the measures that were not helpful (in protecting the people) violated our unalienable rights, as found in the Constitution,” she wrote in a statement late last week.”

“When it comes to the subject of masks and whether they actually protect other peoples’ health, the government and the experts have been contradictory -numerous examples of which are explicitly noted in our complaint.

In our opinion, these contradictions show how the mask mandates are arbitrary rules that do not actually keep anyone safer from COVID 19.”

The complaint specifically takes issue with a number of apparent contradictions in the CDC’s guidelines, first warning people against wearing masks, then issuing guidelines to wear them.

Bachade compares COVID 19 deaths in the United States with other illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer, and concludes that the governor’s assertion that the disaster reaches the level of “unprecedented size and destructiveness” is false. Bachade notes that in 2017 heart disease killed 65,000 Americans, while COVID has killed 115,000 as of the complaint’s date. (The number is 131,413 as of July 2). The complaint further states that COVID 19 has impacted a tenth of a percent of the population of Massachusetts.

“There is a constitutional problem when the government imposes arbitrary rules that infringe freedom of choice.” Bachade writes in her statement. “If the government and the experts are permitted to contradict each other, then there is no lesser good in permitting people and private businesses to choose whether to wear masks, or enforce their own private policies. During this pandemic, I was fortunate enough to have had my business deemed an ‘essential business.’ My philosophy is: “From whom much is given, much is expected.’ Preserving constitutional rights for everyone – including those who might disagree with me – is my way of giving back to my community.”

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